What’s New, What Sticks —Sherburne
I JUST finished reading a terrific book, “What Sticks: Why Most Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours Succeeds,” by Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart. The authors did in-depth research with 30 Fortune 200 companies, measuring more than $1 billion in advertising spend. They concluded that of the $300 billion annual advertising spend in the United States, $112 billion, or 47 percent, is wasted. Not surprisingly, they concluded that marketing is broken and that, as we pointed out last month, just because something worked in the 1980s, it is not necessarily going to work today—although a lot of companies still operate that way.
Their research is fascinating, and although it applies primarily to the B-to-C (Business-to-Consumer) world, there are lessons to be learned for printers who are, of course, primarily B-to-B (Business-to-Business), as they examine their marketing strategies.
In the book, Briggs and Stuart define the 4Ms of marketing and, as printers, we can translate these largely B-to-C 4Ms into our own B-to-B 4Ms, and make sure our marketing dollars are spent as effectively as possible.
What are the 4Ms the authors define?
Motivations: Why do your customers buy? If you don’t know why they buy from you, how can you identify the best way to speak to them? The authors say, “If you miss here, you’re guaranteed to miss the next M.”
Message: How do you communicate with your customers based on their motivations in a way that they hear what you are saying?
Media: What does each type of media you use contribute to the overall success of your marketing campaign and your brand awareness?
Maximization: How do you build and leverage a knowledge storehouse that can deliver continuing improvement in your campaigns over time? The authors say, “Maximization is about continuous improvement in marketing ROI through ongoing innovation and research, paired with information storehouse to ensure the learning doesn’t rot in the field.”
While there is a lot more to the book than we can cover here, let me spend a little time on what I found to be one of their most interesting strategies. They called it the 70/20/10 Solution.
They actually got the idea for the 70/20/10 Solution from a talk delivered by Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. In the speech, he shared the classic Silicon Valley mix of spending 70 percent of their time supporting existing products, 20 percent of their time extending their existing products with “sustaining innovations,” and 10 percent of their time working on “wild skunk-works ideas” for new products.
Briggs and Stuart realized that model has a lot of relevancy to marketing and, in their translation, they recommend that 70 percent of your marketing budget be dedicated to marketing strategies and tactics that are proven to work, and that you know work. Maybe it is direct mail postcards with a telephone followup. Maybe it is advertising in your local business journal. You know what you have been doing, and you probably have a pretty good idea of which of those things have delivered the best results.
They then recommend that 20 percent of your marketing spend be dedicated to what they call “sustaining innovations.” These would be similar to what you have been doing, but different enough that you may be able to get a better ROI. So instead of following up those direct mail postcards with a telephone call, perhaps you offer the recipient a personalized Web URL where they can go get more information about a specific offer and, in the process, begin a dialog with you.
The remaining 10 percent, in their estimation, should be dedicated to “disruptive innovation.” In this case, you would try various new models of marketing and advertising with intensive measurement of results. You learn from these experiences, and you learn what sticks. Once you find some new methods that work, you can move them into the 20 percent or even the 70 percent, using the 10 percent to go after more ideas.
In the book, they use an example from Ford for its popular F-150 truck. While this, again, is B-to-C, you can get an idea from the example of how you might implement such a process in your own company. The 70 percent was devoted to tried-and-true television and magazine advertising. The 20 percent sustaining innovation was invested in lifestyle magazines in the sporting arena because it is a truck, and even Town & Country, because the F-150 is considered a luxury truck. They note, “Who knows if Town & Country will work? But what if it does? If Ford didn’t explore advertising in this magazine, it would be a loss of opportunity, if the magazine did work better than the alternatives.”
The company still spends 70 percent of its budget on tried-and-true methods, but the 20 percent is spread out over several experimental venues and is measured closely to determine results.
That final 10 percent is something with which you can really have fun. In Ford’s case, they used the 10 percent of their F-150 advertising budget to experiment with online advertising in different venues—not just Kelly Blue Book or cars.com, but reaching out to other online venues to determine whether they would generate awareness and interest in the product.
A couple examples in the printing industry of disruptive innovation that I have recently come across include:
One vice president of marketing for a printing firm subscribes to an online print bid site, not to respond to the bids, but to see who is out there buying print online, what they are buying and how much. When he sees a company doing a fair amount of buying over the Internet, he researches them, including checking them out in Dunn & Bradstreet. He uses this process to deliver qualified leads to his sales force, at the rate of some 10 to 15 companies per week that he probably would not have known anything about otherwise.
In another case, employees of a printing/mail company collect all of the “junk mail” that comes to their homes and contact the mailers as qualified prospects for their business. Their business model allows them to provide print/mail services at below-market prices, and many of the mailers they contact in this manner become customers.
“What Sticks” is well worth reading, whether you are a marketing professional, business owner or sales professional. It has great data and great ideas that might spark a new way of thinking for you and your business. I highly recommend it! PI
About the Author
Cary Sherburne is a well-known journalist, author and strategic marketing consultant working primarily with the printing and publishing industry. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, a regular contributor to industry publications and has written three books, available for purchase through the National Association for Printing Leadership (www.napl.org). Sherburne can be reached at Cary@SherburneAssociates.com.